The lady in the grey Volvo station wagon didn’t quite know what was happening. There she was, minding her own business at the traffic lights near Sears Point race track when a huge, metallic blue Escalade pulled alongside. The lights changed, there was this thunder which she could have mistaken for an earthquake, in any case she was so surprised she stalled the engine.
The thunder emanated from the 403 horsepower Caddy just about a yard from her Volvo. It was the one and only time I misbehaved during our 400 mile trip to the Sierras and it was huge. Grandson Freddie’s smile alone was worth it but even my highly respectable wife thought it was a piece of magic. Pure, unadulterated hooliganism. Shocking, outrageous fun. Had I continued in this fashion the fuel consumption would have been in the low tens and very far indeed from the highly respectable 16.1 miles per gallon we managed to achieve simply by driving in a sensible fashion. The 6.2 liter engine has such enormous torque that 90% of the time the revs were kept under 2000rpm. It was no great sacrifice as we still reached Squaw Valley in just over 3 hours.
Getting there was one thing, packing was another! Three pairs of skis, boots, bags, drinks, groceries, the list was endless. First I tried to fold down the rear seats only to find that this wasn’t possible. Partially yes, completely no. While trying to figure all this out I yanked on a handle and hey presto the seat came off. As did the other. So, without further ado I took both rear seats to our loft and all of a sudden we had enough room for a Round the World trip!
Prior to the trip we used the Caddy to deliver some food for the needy over Christmas in the Bay area and it was of course ideal for that purpose.
The Escalade is essentially a very clever piece of niche marketing by General Motors. Some people have called it a bling-bling mobile in deference to the rap artists and basket ball players who absolutely adore it and I can see why. Tons of rooms for 7 ft tall people, lots of sexy, night clubbish instruments, big, comfortable leather seats which can be adjusted 14 different ways, AM/FM radio, XM satellite radio, rear entertainment system, 6 disc CD changer, MP3 facility, literally everything bar the kitchen sink , although if someone were to take out the rear seats like I did the kitchen sink would fit in there as well!
On the road the Escalade has a commanding presence. The driving position is perfect and everything is to hand . Personally I would prefer tighter steering and would also ask for bigger brakes. Not that we had any major dramas but while the brakes stopped the Caddy somehow they just didn’t feel reassuring.
I’ve already mentioned the fuel consumption, a key topic of conversation among motorists these days. Getting 16.1 miles per gallon on a 400 mile trip half of which is uphill does call for a certain discipline but that was part of the fun. The good news is that GM are working on a new transmission in conjunction with DaimlerChrysler and BMW which will improve consumption by anything up to 20%. With the recently introduced and much welcomed low sulphur diesel we may see diesel Caddy-s in the future just like we will see diesel powered BMWs by the end of 2007.
I will not pretend that the 6.2 liter V8 Caddy is the ideal everyday transport or that every soccer Mum should have one-it is far too big for that. On the other hand there is a niche for it and for that it is eminently suitable. One thing puzzled me but GM’s helpful PR staff came to my rescue. The information sheet said 7 seats and however hard I’ve tried I could only count six! It transpired that the 7 or indeed 8 seater Caddys were an option by simply providing bench seats for three people in the second and third rows. Puzzle solved.
There are some great touches such as the folding wing mirrors and a rear view camera which is an absolute must bearing in mind the size of the Caddy. The basic price is 56 thousand dollars, considerably less than its European rivals but it does go up to 65 thou once all the extras are added. While I am not 7 ft tall and cannot play basketball for a trip to the Sierras I couldn’t have wished for a better automobile.source: The Auto Channel